Notes on "The Likeability Factor" (Tim Sanders at Austin Texchange)

Last week I became president of Texchange, a local association of Technology entrepreneurs and executives. At our June event we had Tim Sanders, formerly of Broadcast.com, Yahoo, author of "Love: The Killer App", and more recently "The Likeability Factor". He spoke to a June audience of 130 entrepreneurs and shared some sobering statistics, research, and recommendations. Thanks to Josh Toub at BluefishGroup and Secretary of Techange, I can share these notes for you. [Note: if you are an Austin-based technology entrepreneur or in a Austin-based startup, email me to join].

 

  • Biology behind increased importance of emotion in business and everyday life
    • The amygdala (part of brain in charge of emotion) has grown ~1% in the lat 35 years
    • Makes liking the people you do business with much more important than it once was
  • EVP
    • When Tim evaluates a company to invest in or do business with, he evaluates three things:
      • What is the emotional value proposition
      • What is the emotional cost of ownership
      • What is the emotional compensation plan
    • Did research at Yahoo about the essance of loyalty–it’s all about emotional attraction
    • In life, the "likability factor" is almost always the tie break
      • "Every presidential election since 1976 has been won by the likability factor."
    • What is likability?
      • Not about charimsa
      • Not about being popular
      • It’s about reciprocity, not attraction
  • Emotional Attraction (EA) & Leadership
    • An emotionally attractive salesperson will gross 40% more than a neutral person
    • 3 benefits:
      • Reduced risk
        • Doctors who smile are much less likely to get sued
        • Statistically, people do not sue people who are nice to them
        • Discussed video screening for malpractice insurance coverage; nice people have 10-65% fewer suits
      • Attract & retain young people
        • Motivators for young people (decision criteria when evaluating job opportunities):
          • 1. Experience, culture, how you can be influenced by supervisors
          • 2. Challenging work
          • 3. Compensation
      • EA leads to more innovation
        • Brain leverage capacity averages ~10%, but there are fluctuations
        • Can drop 70% in the presence of cortisol, a stress hormone
        • DHEA enzyme is produced when you are in a positive mood; this can increase B.L.C. up to 300% à 30% BLC when you are in a good mood
    • Consistency is paramount for being likable.  Much more important than your personality.
    • 7 rules for a business:
      • 1. Must have an emotional comp. plan.
        • Take home dignity, hope, etc. along w/ your pay
        • Compensate supervisors (up to 30%) based on emotional state of direct reports
      • 2. Stop the “chicken little” people
        • Negativity is a disease
        • Only way to overcome crisis is by saying “I have”—not “I don’t have”
        • Story: “If you send a chicken little email, he prints it out, stamps it “chicken little” and hangs it in the lobby”
        • SWA will suspend employees based on attitude
        • Google poaching story: YAHOO = “You all have other options”
        • Culture (def): Set of values that create a system of control [Not sure I got this one right –Josh]
      • 3. Stop hiring T.O.  This leads to “horizontal turnover” (causes peers to leave) which, although less well understood and less recognized, is much worse than vertical turnover.
      • 4. Hire people for fit, not for talent.  The first interviewer should only judge fit.
      • 5. Cutback hours; outlaw overtime.
        • Hours 42-70 are bad time management.
        • 50%+ of bugs introduced after hour #45
      • 6. Manage moods like a P&L.
        • Show happiness on a dashboard.
      • 7. Let the sunshine in.  It is proven that natural light and foliage improve mood and productivity.
    • Pyramid diagram: Friendliness (bottom) -> Relevance -> Empathy -> Realness
      • Friendliness
        • “Gatekeeper effect.”  If you think someone does not like you, you turn off.  “Friend or foe?”
        • Friendliness is a communications phenomenon.
        • Friendliness advice:
          • 1. Smile back.  
            • 55% of friendliness cues come from facial expression.  38% from tone and 7% from verbal.  To be friendly, try to meet in person or at least pick up the phone.  Email is evil. 
            • When interviewing, candidates must smile back at the receptionist or they are out of there.
          • 2. Learn email etiquette.
            • Email has been ranked the #2 factor in causing workplace frustration.
            • 4 rule around email:
              • 1. Email is appropriate for yes, hello, and communicating harmless info.  Don’t say ‘no’ over email.  Pick up the phone.
              • 2. Managers should not email direct reports at times when the manager would not pick up the phone and call the person.  No late night emails.
              • 3. Never use “reply to all.” 
              • 4. Leave the safety on when you are mad.  80% of nastygrams are replies.
              • 5. Keep it short.  “If it can’t fit in the preview pane, pick up the phone.”
      • Relevance
        • All about how you relate—developing an interest w/ someone’s passion
        • Trust is a two-way street
        • Learn your coworkers passions à good team building exercise.
      • Empathy
        • The key to empathy is deep and powerless listening.
        • Emotion faces from http://timsanders.com/7faces
        • Powerless listening
          • We often try to fix problems when we listen. That is powerless listening.  Stop it.  Just listen.
          • Say “I’m sorry you feel that way.”
          • Do not say “Yes, but…”
          • Learn how to make yourself emotionally available and appreciate people’s feelings
          • Advice:
            • 1. Show up at meetings you agree to attend, and don’t bring your phone.  When you agree to a meeting, you are agreeing to giving your time.  Don’t multitask.
            • 2. Promise paid; promise kept.  
              • Obsess about promise keeping, especially with direct reports.
              • “Execution and accountability are the most likable things you can do in your life.”
      • Realness
        • Mastering friendliness, relevance, and empathy makes you real.  

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